Haitian Embassy Website In Serious Need of Innovation

  • Posted on: 17 December 2007
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Websites do more than give information.  They tell stories.   Unfortunately, the website of the Haitian Embassy in Washington DC is not doing a good job of conveying, what is one of the most interesting histories in the Western Hemisphere. 


With all the problems facing Haiti, why harp on this website?  Because it could be a useful portal for people interested in investing, for Diaspora interested in re-engaging, for individuals who want to learn more about and either visit or lend a hand somewhow.


What we intend to do is list some ideas that we have for improving the website, add your ideas to them, and then provide them to the Haitian Embassy.   We'll do this at the end of Jan.  


Concerning the featured links, Haiti's participation in the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival has been there for several years now. While it was a great awareness raising event, and a lot of fun, it is time to move on. Take it down and start planning some new events.  The staff is small and doing so is a lot of work - so work with Embassies from other Carribean, Latin American, and African countries.  Bring in artists, authors, business people, etc.  Have the media present, record it on the website. 


Video would be excellent, as they would reach more than just the people who physically attend the event.  Reach back to Haiti and have footage of concerts and other noteworthy events such as the Jakmel Film Festival which may be of interest to people.  Footage of the countryside would be great - most people don't realize just how beautiful Haiti can be.  If people can click on Cap Haitian, Jacmel, Jeremie, and be connected to videos concerning these areas, this would be impressive. 


On Haiti's history, it would be useful to add a prominent link on the front, or even include on the front page, vivid information about Haiti's history, what it means for the United States and the World. Haiti's history if one of its best assets, yet remains little used.  


According to the Tourism section, "Haiti’s tourism is unlike any other in the Caribbean because this industry is slowly moving towards the bridge where the island’s charm, with a taste of the colonial past, meets the paradise forged under the Caribbean sun".  I'm not sure what that means but my kaka detector just went off.  Our advice would be to level with your readers - be honest about the difficulties, but also be clear about the benefits of visiitng Haiti.  We think the latter outweighs the former.


The business section needs some work.  There is so much information on the web about how long it takes to start a business and how difficult it is to deal with corruption.  That's what Haiti is up against.  If the Haitian government is serious about bringing in foreign direct investment, this is a good place to start advertising. It will take more than posting boilerplate - the website must address the concerns of entrepeneurs who would need to take out loans and take risks in order to start small businesses in Haiti.  Fundamentally, the website must answer why it is better to invest in Haiti than the Dominican Republic.  The Diaspora already knows the answer to this question and special efforts should be made to reach out to them.  Lakay se Lakay.


I did find the section on business oriented organizations in Haiti useful though.  By clicking here, you can see a range of Haitian Business Associations including the Haitian Association of Travel Agencies, the Association of Haitian Coffee Exporters, the National Association of Petroleum Product Distributors, the Franco-Haitian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and others.


Speaking of reaching out, it would be useful to have the option of viewing every page in Kreyol, French, and English.  Why not reach out to as many people as possible? 


Also, the website is sorely in need of updates.  According to the website, Haitian History stopped in 1996.  The latest economic and social information is from 1995.  When you click on "Prime Minister' or "President" the website crashes - the last thing the website should do is suggest a coup took place.  


Finally, it would be useful to have email links to the staff of the Embassy.  This will help to create the impression that the staff is accessible.  We hope they are accesible.


And hey, why not a blog?


These are our immediate thoughts on how the website of the Haitian Embassy in Washignton DC could be improved.  


We welcome and will include your thoughts.



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